AS Taff gives me a countdown at the start line, adrenaline pumps through my veins and my foot shakes with nerves. Three, two, one go – no turning back now.
I set off quickly, sliding into second gear almost immediately. I hit the first bend at breakneck speed and the back end slides ferociously to the left. Taff prompts me to turn into the skid and gently put my foot on the gas.
The car quickly jolts the other way and I manage to straighten up before putting my foot down to approach the next corner.
My heart is now thumping and sweat is dripping down my brow. As I round the next bend I fight to stay in control.
After swerving from left to right I level up, a manoeuvre which is met with praise by Taff.
Within seconds I am at the next corner, an ultra-sharp chicane to the left, forcing me to slow right down. I make it round. Only one more turn to go, a sharp right, which I glide round followed by a cloud of dust. All that remains is to slam my foot down and hurtle to the finish line.
My timed lap is over – the stopwatch reads 1.26 minutes. “Not bad for a first timer,” says Taff.
I had my thoroughly invigorating rally driving experience on Saturday as part of GwynneSpeed Rallying’s 20th birthday celebrations.
Experienced instructor and rally driver Taff Williams gave me great support throughout the taster session and I went home with overly ambitious dreams of one day becoming a world class rally driver.
The Down Ampney rally school was established in 1994 by the-then European class rally champion Andy Gwynne as a rally car preparation and build company.
Today, it is still going strong and offers rally driving experience days through its Gloucestershire Rally School side of the business.
Experience days consist of a half or full day’s rally driving that include tuitions sessions. An opportunity is also given to put new-found skills to the test and get adrenaline pumping by completing two individually-timed stages.
Holly Robinson, partner of Andy Gwynne, and operations manager at the school, said the school offered an experience that cannot be found anywhere else.
She said: “It is not just a job, it is a passion. We are very fortunate. All our staff love it as well which rubs off on the customers.
“People enjoy track days.We are of the opinion that if you get it wrong we have a plan to improve you.
“At other schools if you come off in one section they ban you from the course. We don’t do that.”
Next month sees a new chapter for the school with the launch of its 4x4 course, driving a Land Rover Discovery around a lake in the Cotswold Water Park.
“Not only is it a great driving experience it is on a fantastic lake with great scenery,” said Holly.
For more information see glosrallyschool.co.uk.